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Stages of Grief and a New Reality When Living With MS

February 12, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 204

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic unpredictable disease where the body's immune system attacks the central nervous system or CNS (the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord). It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder and is rarely terminal. Most people with MS have a normal or near-normal life-expectancy. It is often the quality of life that is diminished.

This disease affects 2.1 million people worldwide. Those who have MS display a variety of neurological symptoms where the messages are not getting from the brain to the extremities which leads to difficulty in mobility and speech.

A very important piece of advice came from my physical therapist at the beginning of my MS journey. She told me to keep the knowledge of MS in the back of my mind, always taking care of myself, but not putting it in the front of my mind where all the focus is.

I'm not saying to stuff it down inside with all the other junk that we've emotionally stuffed inside over the years.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross is famous for her studies and teaching about Grief. Elizabeth pioneered methods in the support and counseling of personal trauma, grief and grieving identifying the 5 stages of grief; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

The shock that hits one in the face when hearing the diagnoses of Multiple Sclerosis can seem overwhelming.

Denial is the first stage of grieving, as Elizabeth has identified. It is a way to avoid the fear and uncertainty of the future. Denial helps survive the loss for life that was planned on living. "Denial is a common tactic that substitutes deliberate ignorance for thoughtful planning." ~Charles Tremper

Anger is a typical reaction to the horrible news and if you strike out and blame others, permanent damage to your relationships may result. If anger is expressed in a way that doesn't harm others it can be healthy. "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." Gautama Buddha

As the shock and denial wear off it's common to feel pain and quilt. This might feel almost unbearable it is so excruciating. It is crucial that we allow ourselves to feel the pain and not escape with alcohol or drugs.

Frustration gives way to bargaining as an attempt to control the uncontrollable. You may rail against fate, questioning "Why me?" You may make promises in turn for a way out of your despair.

After bargaining, our attention moves to the present. In this empty and lonely place when friends and family may think you should be getting on with life you may isolate yourself and depression may set in.

As time passes and you emotionally grow to a place ready to realize the true magnitude of your loss.

Instead of focusing on the things you lost you start to adjust to life as it is; your New Reality. Your depression begins to lift slightly and you find the beginning of new hope, acceptance.

Now it's time to seriously study and learn about your condition. With the knowledge you gain you'll be able to partner with your health care providers to make informed decisions about your treatment.

As you adjust to your new life it's important to build a strong network of people who will support you in the decisions you've made. People in your life that will accept you as you are and not expect more than you have to give.

You must put the disease in the back of your mind, not in the front. Be aware that it is always there and take care of yourself accordingly. Take extra care of yourself and learn how to say NO, not just to others, but to yourself.

When the condition is at the front of your mind, you're giving up power. By putting it in the back of your mind, you're aware of your condition and it's like you're riding the waves, picking up the energy, and letting it move you forward.

You'll begin to accept 'your new reality' - and invest in it. Instead of looking backward to a previous state of health and lifestyle, you can now figure out what you can do, what you want to do and do it.

Like with all loss, there will be times when we re-visit our grief. As we learn to live in The Now as Eckhart Tolle taught, not longing for the past or fearing the future, we will enjoy our lives in our New Reality.

Linda Grace Cox I am a happily married mother of 8 with 3 grandchildren. I love helping those with medically limiting situations attain a strong web presence and build the lifestyle and independence they dream of.

Source: EzineArticles
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Multiple Sclerosis


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Chronic Unpredictable Disease






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